UPDATE: Despite multiple reports this morning stating this has been confirmed, the Warriors are remaining noncommittal, telling ESPN that they “will make those decisions when and if necessary.” Small Forward and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala said “Hell nah,” in response to whether he would attend.
We have changed the headline from “The Golden State Warriors Won a Championship and Immediately Declined Their Invitation to the White House” to “The Golden State Warriors May Decline Their Invitation to the White House”
On August 30th, 1865, President Andrew Johnson invited the Brooklyn Atlantics and Washington Nationals baseball teams to the White House—and so began the ritual of melding America’s sports and its highest elected office. In 1924, Calvin Coolidge began a tradition that extends to this day, as he invited the World Series champion Washington Senators to visit 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Ever since then, champion teams from the pros on down to college have paid homage to the current president as a reward for conquering their respective league…until now.
Last night, the Golden State Warriors etched their spot in history, winning their second NBA championship in three years, and everyone’s mind immediately pivoted to whether they would follow in the footsteps of every NBA champion before them. We have already seen players like Devin McCourty and LeGarrette Blount from the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots skip the presidential visit—with both saying they did not feel welcome in Trump’s White House—but the vast majority of the team still took the trip to Washington D.C. The NBA is very different from the NFL and MLB, as it is our most openly progressive sports league, and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has not held back in his criticism of our commander-in-cheeto.
So given the very public sentiments of their head coach, it makes sense that the entire Golden State Warriors basketball team may decline the standard White House visit, even if it does buck a historical trend (but hey, that’s what the Warriors do). This would be the first team in any sport to eschew this near-century long tradition, and it’s reasonable to think that future NBA champions will follow the Warriors and Melania Trump’s lead to never visit Donald Trump in the White House.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.